I have, over the past couple of weeks, become heavy obsessed by The Mindy Project; Mindy Kaling’s sitcom about the life and loves of a rom-com obsessed gynaecologist living in New York City. And when I say “over the past couple of weeks”, I mean that I’ve been piling up episodes since it first aired over here and watching them at a relatively steady pace, but then last weekend I binge-watched most of the second season when I was bedridden with a migraine. Yes, I had other plans; no, I couldn’t leave Mindy and Danny there. It is now my considered opinion that The Mindy Project‘s second season finale rivals only that of New Girl in the they-could-have-just-ended-the-show-here-and-I-would-have-got-over-it stakes, and it didn’t even have a cameo from Taylor Swift.
Not only are these episodes two perfect half hours of television but (and here I stop even pretending that the rest of this piece won’t be riddled with spoilers for both shows) they both close on perfectly cinematic romantic moments: Danny and Mindy winchin’ on the don’t-think-about-how-disgusting-it-probably-is floor of the Empire State Building observation deck; Nick and Jess speeding off into the night while The Vaccines play over the credits. I canny thole The Vaccines, as one of those barely-distinguishable, overly-hyped guitar band revival bands, but I love that song and it makes me giddy and it makes me want to do reckless things for love. Which is why, although I’m still watching New Girl religiously, it hurts my heart that the show couldn’t make Nickandjess the couple interesting enough to keep together.
When it comes to shows I’m not even pretending to watch in real-time I don’t really care about spoilers: I have too much of a thing for think-pieces on US cultural criticism websites, so if I spend the whole time getting precious about it I’d never get a thing done. Seriously, did I tell you about the time I was so upset about Olivia Dunham getting left behind in the parallel universe while her doppleganger slipped into her life with Peter than I stayed up past midnight reading Fringe plot summaries on Wikipedia? So I already know that Kaling and her fellow writers do not intend to give up on their central couple – and yes, I’m even up on that spoiler. From the first episode of the first season it’s clear that the writers are as committed to Mindy and Danny as the viewer, and that they’re going to have plenty of fun contrasting Mindy’s Meg Ryan-esque fantasies with the reality of life with a short, angry, Springsteen-loving Italian (dad?) who is ridiculously hench (definitely not dad). And, given the latest plot developments, it’s only going to get even more interesting…
TV is good at first kisses, less so at sticking with it for the long haul. Mindy and Danny’s first kiss rivalled… well, that of Nick and Jess (I found myself re-watching “Cooler”, New Girl‘s Year 2 mid-season finale, on Monday night just to compare). But when you’ve built that tension between two well-loved characters with great chemistry to a certain point, those scenes almost write themselves – or would, if it wasn’t for those damn bees. Fuelled in part by the realisation that, as a happily married lady, I will almost certainly never experience the giddy rush that you get when you realise that you are about to kiss somebody that you really, really like for the first time ever again, I’m rooting for Mindy and Danny. And I demand more.
You may, for example, know that I am one of the very few people who still religiously – if a few episodes behind – watches Castle. When it first appeared it was mine and Stringer’s show: Nathan Fillion as a crime writer? A quick-witted, intelligent brunette as female lead who I would to the surprise of nobody ultimately 100% fall for? Check, check, check. Stringer gave up on the show last year after one too many ludicrous, conspiracy-heavy plots that took themselves way too seriously, but I can hand-on-heart say that I am enjoying it more than I have in a long time. The show has rediscovered its heart, and Kate and Rick are now happily married despite the soap opera style twists and turns along the way. It’s a marriage between two equals who bicker and bounce off each other and who, most importantly, remain as heavily into each other as that Paramore song. It is, without question, one of the hottest things on TV at the moment.
Last week I went to see a friend of my sister’s play Edna Turnblad in a production of Hairspray at the King’s. The relationship between Edna and her husband Wilbur is played for laughs – he’s been a little guy in every production of the show I’ve seen while she is of course famously performed in drag – but it’s also one that’s played with tremendous affection and warmth. Even as you laugh at the disruption of the stereotypical male-female dynamic between the two characters, you know that what you are watching is a proper grown-up love story. Case in point: “You’re Timeless to Me”, the pair’s big duet; which is basically an adult version of Taylor Swift’s “Style” with the added bonus that it doesn’t force you to accept the possibility that a rational human adult female would ever look at the wee hairdo from One Direction with a straight face.
Now, while I doubt anybody is about to take to the streets or angrily tweet their favourite network over the dearth of happily hetereosexual, conventionally attractive couples on TV (because, if the tone of that sentence wasn’t clear, THAT WOULD BE LUDICROUS) I hope this essay has at least inspired you to spend this Valentine’s weekend (HA! TOPICAL) curled up in bed with
a boxset or two your own OTP, if you’re lucky enough to have one. And tell me your favourite fictional couples.